Sarcoma Diagnosis and Staging
Early, accurate diagnosis and staging of both soft-tissue and bone sarcomas are crucial to delivering the most effective treatments and achieving the best possible patient outcomes.
After a physical exam and a discussion of the patient’s medical history and symptoms, we might order testing. These tests can include:
- A tissue sample (biopsy): Tissue
samples from the tumor are extracted and sent to our pathologists for
examination under a microscope. We typically perform needle biopsies, using a computed tomography (CT) scan
or ultrasound imaging to precisely
guide the needle to the tumor. Our
surgeons might perform an incisional or excisional biopsy if additional tumor cells are needed for diagnosis. An incisional
biopsy requires a small cut in the skin to remove
part of the tumor, while an excisional biopsy surgically removes the entire tumor. Local or
general anesthesia – whichever is appropriate – is administered prior to all
- Imaging studies: Imaging
options include X-rays, magnetic
resonance imaging (MRI),
ultrasound, CT scan, musculoskeletal radiology (“bone
scans”), and positron emission tomography (PET) and help clinicians visualize tumors and perform guided biopsies
and other procedures.
- Blood work: The levels
of certain chemicals in the blood can indicate the stage of a sarcoma.
Results from biopsies, advanced imaging studies, and blood tests enable our team to accurately identify, diagnose, stage, and plan the most appropriate treatment for all types of sarcoma.
When appropriate, patients can meet with our clinical geneticists, who can help determine if there is a familial predisposition for sarcoma that could affect their relatives.
A cancer’s stage indicates whether it has spread beyond the site in which it originated, and if so, how far. The stage of sarcoma helps our team determine the most appropriate treatment.